Similar to tomatoes increasing nutritional value when cooked, for mushrooms, Powell advises that ‘It is always preferable to cook them as it helps increase the bioavailability of key active components and in some cases also detoxifies toxins contained in the mushroom.’
But if you’re looking for an easier way to benefit from mushrooms, what are the options if you’d prefer to take a supplement?
‘While eating most things in its natural form is always beneficial, it may not always be possible to achieve the vitamin and mineral levels needed to make a difference,’ explains Lisa Sinclair, Head of VHMS Category at Holland & Barrett. ‘So taking a daily supplement is a great way of monitoring your dosage.’
Mushrooms on the up
If you decide you would like to try medicinal mushrooms, there’s never been a better time, as their increasing popularity means they are becoming more commonly available in their various forms.
Mushrooms are definitely having a moment, says Sinclair. On , hashtags like #mushroomsofinstagram have been used more than a million times, proving the widespread interest in the emerging superfood trend.’
Products incorporating mushrooms include beauty, food and vitamins. Sinclair tells us they are even being used for skincare: ‘Mushrooms can be used topically, for example, Antipodes Apostle Skin Brightening Serum contains reishi mushrooms, which helps to boost healthy skin cell renewal,’ she says.
Mushrooms and vitamin D
Even the standard mushrooms you buy at the greengrocer can give you a health kick, and if you’re someone who needs a vitamin D boost in winter months, you might be interested in their UV powers.
‘Mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to UV light and this includes being left on a windowsill in the sun for as little as minutes, explains Powell. It’s best to leave with the gills up as this increases the surface exposed and so the vitamin D production.’
If you’re interested in finding out more about mushrooms and their medicinal effects, Powell says that a considerable number of papers have been published on their efficacy. Forage for his book Medicinal Mushrooms